New Awareness for a New Earth: Paradigms and Culture Minds

by Brendan D. Murphy, ZenGardner Note: The following passage is excerpted from Chapter 1 of The Grand Illusion: A Synthesis of Science and Spirituality by Brendan D. Murphy. In a time of drastic change, it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists. —Eric Hoffer Kuhn states in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions that the actualization of a scientific paradigm is achieved by increasing the extent of the match between its facts and its predictions, and by further articulation of the paradigm itself: “mop-up work.” Kuhn’s candor is enlightening, as he explains that such work occupies most scientists right through their careers; it is “normal science,” an enterprise attempting to force-fit nature into the preformed conceptual boxes supplied by the already existing paradigm (the Big Bang theory comes to mind). New sorts of phenomena are not sought, and those phenomena that won’t be squeezed into pre-existing boxes tend to not even be seen at all. Scientists generally don’t seek to invent new theories, and they don’t always tolerate the theories of other scientists.[i] Psychologically speaking, it makes sense that scientists imprinted by the culturally dominant paradigm they are born into will expend most of their energy attempting to understand it better and elaborate on it. Practically speaking, this has to be done because of the chasms that exist between science’s theoretical understandings of the cosmos (from the Greek Kosmos, meaning “ordered whole”) and what the cosmos actually has to offer—and every answer yields another ten questions. The average scientist is busy enough trying to test and validate aspects of the preformed paradigmatic box he or she has inherited without having to worry about various anomalies that challenge the basic parameters, theoretical underpinnings, or first principles of that box. Hence, anomalous data, such as that which we will deliberately focus on in this book, is typically unfavorable to those scientists imprinted by a theory or model of the universe that posits that such phenomena should not even exist. The presumption seemingly made by many scientists—like the child who naïvely sees his parents as being god-like in their knowledge and authority—is obviously that the paradigm must be right and that there’s no point actually checking, or else why would it be the dominant paradigm? This, of course, creates unscientific institutionalized blind spots that do not harmonize with people whose conscious experience is not congruent with what the popular theory says they should or shouldn’t be experiencing. If the facts of your waking experience are not encapsulated by the theory, and your experiences are being shared by millions of other people, then perhaps the theory needs some revision. Importantly, Kuhn also stated that a paradigm defines what constitutes a valid scientific problem. Any pursuits venturing away from the confines of the paradigm therefore define themselves as being “unscientific” (and therefore the findings must be untrue) by default, and—to conventional thinking—this is where most of the information contained in this book lies: the scientific wilderness or no man’s land. This briefly outlined “scientific” approach, needless to say, can institutionalize myopic and dogmatic gate-keeping activities that prevent novel research from occurring (or being published), ironically in the name of science if not the form, leading to a stagnation in the advancement of science to the extent that such activities succeed and prevail. However, history shows that such circumstances break down in the end, in line with the ultimate law of the world of form and relativity: the only constant is change. The individuals who catalyze such breakdowns and revolutions of thought and encourage them to unfold towards what will ultimately be a state of greater order and understanding (whether they facilitate this consciously or otherwise) are what Rudhyar called civilizers (and what historian Arthur Toynbee referred to as creative minorities). These (relatively) independent and forward-thinking minds possess a differing vision from the majority of culturally conditioned minds, aptly designated as culture minds. For clarity, culture is defined by anthropologists as a collection of learned survival strategies passed on to our young through teaching and modeling.[ii] The culture mind, which is essentially a reflection of the collective or group mind, is the one that imprints on and inherits a pre-existing paradigm, refines it, champions it, and, maybe above all, defends it against “attack” from unfamiliar and unexpected data—supposedly for the benefit of humankind, but in truth simply as a coping mechanism, perhaps a perversion of a biological survival drive. Such was the role of those who decried the invention of the light bulb, the radio, the telescope, and almost every other novel and important invention through our history. Joseph C. Pearce refers to culture as “the collective embodiment of our survival ideation,” and “a circular stalemate,”[iii] and in this sense our narrow cultural tendencies are holding us back from transcending ourselves. The civilizer mind, on the other hand, is the lonely soul or minority of souls brave or silly enough to bring forth such unexpected and “ridiculous” creations as light bulbs, radios, quantum mechanics, or parapsychology, and pose the uncomfortable questions stemming from them that the culture mind’s paradigm had failed to anticipate. What if this new phenomenon is real? What if the universe doesn’t work the precise way our paradigms led us to believe? What if more is possible? The civilizer will pursue a new line of inquiry in spite of its being politically incorrect or taboo, if he or she perceives that such a pursuit could benefit mankind in the long run. This will of course be done to the chagrin of the tribally oriented culture mind who perceives, however dimly, such investigation as a threat to his status and identity—his models of self and the universe. Eventually, when the civilizer has succeeded in gaining acceptance for his new concept or invention and it has become familiar and even commonplace, a new breed of culture mind will grow up taking this once dangerous heresy for granted as self-evident and obvious. Continue Reading>>>

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